Friday, June 26, 2009
This was our second year raising Painted Lady butterflies. We got our caterpillars from Insect Lore. They were really tiny when they arrived-- around a half an inch long. The very next day, they were 3/4 inch long, and after that, they grew even more rapidly. We noticed that their frass changed as they matured, growing larger and darker, and that the amount of silk webbing grew each day. It only took about a week before they all formed chrysalises dangling from the roof of the caterpillar jar. We took them out and set them in the bottom of our mesh butterfly habitat. The second photo is a detail shot of a chrysalis.
I'm happy to report that they all emerged successfully. We kept them alive on sliced oranges and apples, and roses and other flowers from the garden. You can see the butterfly drinking apple juice with its proboscis in the first photo below.
After about a week, we released them in the garden. "Bye, butterfly! Have a good life!" Mikro called to each as it sailed away.
Our milkweed which we planted from seed from last year has returned, and spread. There's quite a lot of it, and I'm hoping it will attract monarchs. We also planted some milkweed cutting this spring. If we find eggs or caterpillars, that would be great (and save me a few dollars. Otherwise, I'll be ordering them from Live Monarch.) Mikro is eager to see monarchs develop first hand.